An unenlightened view of the 'New Elite'

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Regarding Charles Murray's Oct. 24 Outlook commentary, "Are you part of the New Elite"?:

Mr. Murray is a conservative, so it was interesting to see how the "mainstream America" he described is precisely the Republican base -- white, more rural, more evangelical, people with conservative values. While thoroughly misleading, his article served a clever political purpose: It made anyone who doesn't see the world Mr. Murray's way not "one of us."

The truth is that there's no such thing as "mainstream America" -- there's only an America, a diverse country where those living in an urban high-rise are as American as a Kiwanis Club member; where someone who enjoys hip-hop or indie rock is as authentic as those who like country music; where an immigrant naturalized as a citizen yesterday is as American as a descendant of the Mayflower colonists.

It's hubris for Mr. Murray to suggest that there are some Americans who are more mainstream than others.

Leonard Steinhorn, Bethesda

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I am one of the brides mentioned in Charles Murray's commentary -- the "consultant to the aerospace industry (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MPP)" who married "a director of marketing at a biotech company (Stanford undergrad, Harvard MBA)." But Mr. Murray used a faulty example to characterize his New Elite.

He failed to recognize the host of ways the populations attending "elite" educational institutions have changed as society has shifted. I grew up as a Muslim in American suburbs, with immigrant parents who worked their way up the corporate ladder and speak of biases they faced because of skin color or accent. I never attended a private American school while growing up, but I did live in Pakistan for two years during high school. In American public schools, I was awarded some money by the Rotary Club and even got elected Key Club secretary. I didn't watch TV. I took no luxurious domestic vacations with my parents.


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